30th July 1943

Glorious brilliant day, very hot.  One of the girls fainted in the office this morning.  Just after dawn a big flight of ‘planes went out from aerodromes in Suffolk, right across Lawford.  See in the evening papers that they went to bomb an aerodrome in Holland.

Busy all day.  More letters criticising the War Agricultural Committee in the weekly paper.  One signed by Prior, obviously inspired, but quite true, complains that the Committee refuse to allow farmers to fallow their land, yet they fallow their own farms.

Mrs. V., the Women's Land Army supervisor, in a rage all day, having been given notice to leave.  She’s quite useless, in fact we have had no satisfaction with Women's Land Army since Joanna left.  Lot of trouble with the pay today.  Got out at 6 for some tea.  Outside Holly Trees a Czech asked me about buses for Wivenhoe, the streets were full of strolling Americans, and in the café a Dutch sailor, very fair and Nordic, was having tea with an English girl.  Every few minutes a ‘plane from Langham roared over our heads.

Went round to see Molly Blomfield about photos and negatives [for the National Buildings Record].  Duncan Clark has given her a very nice lot.  She was extraordinarily bright and cheerful, laughing and joking, wearing a pretty print dress.

29th July 1943

Very hot day.  Everybody bad tempered with heat.  Mrs. Dodo Rose rang up about a friend of hers, Kiki MacCormick, daughter of the Padre, who is now Mrs. Cruft.  Shortly after Mrs. Cruft herself ‘phoned from London, about getting into a Land Club camp, but could not help her.

Home to tea, and stayed an hour.  Then back to Lawford in the cool evening.  Going to stay at Dedham on Saturday.

28th July 1943

A quiet night, nothing but a few ‘planes about at searchlight exercise.  The light by the buildings came on, and I could hear the voices of the men as they worked it.

Brilliant morning, very hot.  Butterflies have been scarce this year, but noticed quite a lot this morning, a cloud of cabbage whites hovering over a lilac bush, Red Admirals and Peacocks fluttering about the road.  Rows of finches were sitting on the telegraph wires.

27th July 1943

Wakened last night at midnight by Fletcher’s dog barking, then Fisher’s, the sound of ‘planes, and almost at once sirens blowing.  Guns began, and the voices of the men on the searchlight could be heard.  Some ‘planes were very low, and close by, but no bombs came.  There were three or four bursts of firing, but nothing happened, and “All-clear” was within half an hour, only to be followed by another alarm at 2am, when a ‘plane dived from a great height, but again no bombs fell.  Finally got to sleep at about 3.15am.

Busy all day on Committee work arising out of yesterday’s meeting, much disturbed all day long by ‘phone calls and people coming in. 

26th July 1943

Foggy, with deep red sun only just above the horizon at 6 o’clock.  Very hot and sunny by the time I got to Colchester.  Busy all morning getting ready for Committee.  Nott was in a temper because he had no petrol, and Writtle refuse to send even a gallon coupon.  Yet this morning some fool drove all the way down here with footling queries about the farm-survey, and on Saturday night the Executive Officer, Leslie, drove down to Mersea to spend the weekend there.

Frank Warren bought four more horses for the Committee at the Suffolk sale on Thursday at an average of £150 each.  They are too good for our class of work.

Committee was very long and very tiring.  Still trouble about the Abbots Wick foreman, Frost, and a deputation of tractor-drivers is to go to Writtle on his behalf.

25th July 1943

Woke at 7.  Cell very cold and clammy.  Went over to Holly Trees and worked in my office until 9.30, then (on sudden impulse) went round to Molly Blomfield’s in Trinity Street.  She was cooking breakfast in her pyjamas.  Gave me a cup of tea.  Stayed an hour, talking about the photographic survey [for the National Buildings Record].

Home, bathed, shaved, had lunch, packed up, and cycled to Dedham.  Saw two very smart tub-traps on the Ipswich Road.  At Dedham the street was full of boys and girls cycling down to the river to bathe.

Found Mrs. Sisson at home, and she said that Joy would like me to stay at Dedham for about 10 days while the harvest is on, to make room for extra helpers.  Mrs. Sisson is wonderfully kind, and always willing to help in a case like this.

Stayed to tea.  Mr. and Mrs. Mackworth-Raeburn there.  He is 82, she not more than 40.  They live round the corner near Pond Lane.  He is a most extraordinary old man, and knew Whistler quite well.  He used to do a lot of work at Buckingham Palace, copying royal portraits.  These copies were sent out to various embassies and consulates.  He frequently saw Queen Victoria, but she would never speak to him direct, only through a third person.  He said she was exceptionally short, barely 5 feet.  George V was also very short, and when photographed with Queen Mary would stand on a stool, the Queen’s long skirt being spread in front of it.  Both he and Queen Mary would often chat to Mackworth-Raeburn when he was working at Windsor.

The poor old chap lost his studio in a raid, and now has almost nothing left at all.

Cycled back to Lawford at 9, lovely cool evening.  Worked at my desk until 11.30, then bed.

24th July 1943

Got in early.  Busy morning, no lunch until quarter to 2, then only milk and sandwich at a milk-bar.

On duty tonight.  Went on the roof to watch the “holidays-at-home” dancing on the Holly Trees lawn.  The band consisted of six soldiers, one an officer, playing raucus dance music into an amplifier, which further distorted the hideous sounds they produced.  Great difficulty to get the dancing started, most of the huge crowd being content to watch.  Lots of old folks sitting with their backs to the lawn, apparently oblivious of the row.  Lots of squawling children romping on the grass.   

A “quick step” was played, but only 4 couples attempted it.  The band leader then said, “Alright, boys and girls, we’ll try something else,” and they began to play a dreadful dreary tune which managed to induce about twelve couples to take to the “floor”.

In Holly Trees field was a Punch & Judy, a pathetic little roundabout, some swings and a mat-slide.  Big crowds strolling about.

Noticed there were no Americans dancing.   

Mr. Warren was talking this morning about the huge prices for Suffolk horses at the last sale – up to 700 gns for 4 yr. old mare.

23rd July 1943

Dull, NE wind, rather cool.  Out this morning looking for new offices in Rawston Road and North Hill, but nothing doing.  Early lunch, then got Bob round to the blacksmith’s, from where Clayton took him over to Ardleigh for his girl to ride.  Not happy about this, Clayton being nothing but a bloody fool, but the girl is delighted.  Hope to God they look after him well. 

‘Phone call from Air Ministry about crops at Fordham, so had to go over there, this afternoon, as nobody else was available.  (N.B. – The old Congretional Church at Fordham is very interesting, and ought to be photographed.  Molly Blomfield must see to this).

At the aerodrome saw Canfield, the Engineer, who showed me some wheat which must be cut and carted at once.  This also means that the traves will have to be set up in another field, as the land is wanted at once.  The wheat is not ready, but it will have to do.  Made the necessary arrangements, and came home.  Old Balls Farm now stands gaunt and derelict.  What terrible waste there has been here.

22nd July 1943


Dull morning.  Much talk all day, much telephoning, because of a strike of tractor-drivers at Abbot’s Wick.  Most bizarre business.  They are up in arms in favour of the foreman Frost, who is quite useless and who we want to get rid of.  He has got these drivers to support him, and now proposes to appeal to the Ministry of Labour if we apply for his dismissal.  This afternoon both the office ‘phone and Baldwin’s went out of order, adding to the general confusion.

After lunch the sun came blazing out.  Went to see Molly Blomfield at tea time to help her with her petrol application forms.  Poulter seems unwell, and his voice is very odd.

Most of the outside staff hanging about the office all day because they have no petrol coupons and Writtle refuse to issue any more until the end of the month.

Letter from the Pope in the papers today, on bombing of Rome.  Very good indeed.  Should have an excellent effect.  It is a quiet, dignified protest against this dreadful thing which has been done by the Americans.  His Holiness proposes to move into a palace in the centre of Rome if any other attacks are made.

21st July 1943


Heavy rain from 2am until half past 7.  Lot of talk today about getting another combine harvester for use at Wigborough.  The previous one we had was no good, anyway.  Can't see that these things are any use, but Nott and the District Officer are so worried about the shortage of binders that they feel anything is better than nothing.  Agricultural machinery is in a terrible state. 

Old Death, who works for us at E. Mersea, wrote a letter complaining about conditions of work.  Nott was furious, saying “I’ll shift him, I’ll trim him!  I’ll get him sacked as an agitator!  He’s a union man, that’s what he is!”  Death suffers under a perpetual sense of grievance, as the Committee took over his brother’s farm.

20th July 1943

Fine, though overcast.  Wind NE to E. 

Soldier called today with a curious knife.  Poulter sent for me to go down.  Had no idea what it was, but in the course of conversation the man said he used to work for White’s, a firm of boat builders in the Isle of Wight, who built the cutter used by Bligh of the “Bounty”.

This afternoon Mr. Warner, the bell-founder of Loughborough, called, bringing a huge fossil oyster dredged up at Burnham-on-Crouch.  Conversation just getting interesting when Hull came in.  Noticed with alarm that Poulter's voice is getting very hoarse again.

19th July 1943

Good night.  Slept from 1.30 till 6.  The morning grey and overcast, with strong NE wind, but gradually cleared.

An alarm just after 2 p.m., as I was coming out of the Library.  The sun was shining through thin high clouds.  Nobody in the streets took the least notice.  Cycled into the Park, and walked along the Castle Ramparts.  A few children and old ladies were going into the shelters.  Nobody on duty on the Castle bridge, so suppose they had not bothered to open the Vaults.  Most of the old folks, and women and girls, sitting on Park seats never moved.  Heard a little girl say to her mother in a rather shaky voice: “They dont take much notice, do they?” pointing to children playing by the lily-pond.  Sat on the ramparts by a tree, thinking it would be a protection against machine-gun fire.  Three women came and stood under the old elms, rather like people sheltering from the rain. 

 Heard a ‘plane, high and distant, and dull explosions – bombs or guns?  Sat reading Beverley Nichols “Twenty Five”.  Children went on playing.  Soldiers walked through the Park, laughing.  A ‘plane dived.  Then I saw it – a Hurricane.  Two or three minutes more, then “all-clear”.  Went into Holly Trees, the old folks still knitting and reading.

When I got up at 7 this morning, I walked round the Castle for half an hour.  Poulter has mounted some carved oak panels which the Committee bought from Dr Laver's collection.  They are nice work, but there is no data wherever as to their origin.  Poulter has mounted them just as they were received, dirty, and covered with auction labels, and has put them in the wrong order, one of them upside down.

Upstairs noticed that the print of Old Hythe Bridge, which has hung in the Crypt all my life, has suddenly vanished, no doubt stolen.  There is only one other copy, in the E.A.S. collection.

Caught 5.14 to Manningtree, met Joy at the station, just back from Chelmsford.  There was an alarm there also today.  Cycled over to Cattawade meeting swarms of young men and girls coming away from the Zylonite Works.  Went along by the works to Palfrey Farm (what a nice name) and saw old Snow.  He showed me two old London carts, one a coalcart, well worth having, for £30, double what I paid in London last year, but agreed to have it as we are so short.

Snow said that these carts had already been inspected by two men who had come all the way from Writtle by car for the purpose, yet it is only yesterday we got a memo: from Writtle instructing us to arrange to see them.  And our own people can't get anything like enough petrol for essential purposes.

Cycled back to Lawford.  The Hall oats cut and traved.  Supper, then farmyard chores, writing, and bed.

18th July 1943

Dull morning, but sun came out about one.  Had breakfast and lunch almost together [with the Conrans at Higham], then the Conrans went off to a “tea-dance” and boxing-match (an odd combination) at Raydon Aerodrome.

Suddenly decided to go and see Lt Wenham Hall, after all these years.  Went across field tracks, past Dewlands Farm, where the Storeys live, and Lark Hall, which looks very nice, then took a wrong turning and found myself in Raydon village.  Saw the church, not very interesting, but has a good brass of T Raydon, 15th century.  There are a few old cottages against the church, but nothing very interesting.

Found the right road for Wenham, which now runs through the middle of the aerodrome.  Dozens of Americans about.  One block of huts called “Youngstown” and another “Alcatraz”.  One lot of huts are within a few yards of Gt. Wenham Church, where a family party were reading old tombstones and looking at some new graves.

Opposite the church is a very fine timber-framed house, built about 1500 I should imagine.

Having only a half inch map had some difficulty in finding Lt. Wenham Hall.  Went through a farmyard up to the old Hadleigh railway line, and then back, and at last found the entrance to the grounds.  I could not for the life of me remember Miss Crisp’s name, so had to ask two ladies who were walking down the drive. 

And there was the famous Hall, very mellow in the sunlight, with the modern house in pseudo-Elizabethan style not far away.  Saw Miss Crisp, and calmly said that I had come in answer to her invitation of eleven years ago.  She was rather surprised, but gave me the keys of the Hall and the church, and left me to my own devices.

The yellowy-grey Castle, looking very neat and compact, rises up from a smooth green lawn, with the farm buildings and the ancient church behind.  Its completeness and its perfect condition came as a surprise.  Went up the modern outside stair, unlocked the door, and found the main hall of the place arranged as a museum.  This is a splendid chamber, about 60 x 25 feet.  Miss Crisp is obviously a very religious woman, and collects “curios” in a mildly “dilettante” manner.  She has no less than 6 sets of wagon-bells, several cross-bows, muskets, a pot-hat, some good chests, a fine refectory table, an ophedeide in its original case, a drum, the Hadleigh Ringers’ Jug dated 1715, (Stock ware, much like the Braintree jug.)  There are also fire-irons, jacks, etc, and a fine “toasting dog” carved in wood, holding an iron toaster.  The most extraordinary object is an alleged clepsydia, inscribed “John Calver fecit 1652 Ipswych.”  This looks very doubtful to me, and somewhere I seem to remember having read about an antique-dealer making a number of these things some years ago, always inscribing them with convincing wording and dates.

The wooden window shutters are hung on the original hooks, and there are several carved and painted escutcheons on the walls.

Adjoining the hall is a tiny chapel, dedicated to St. Petronilla, obviously still in use.  The stairs in the Turret lead up to the leaded roof, from which there are fine views in every direction across the fields of waving barley.  Gt. Wenham church clock struck 5.

Went across the garden, everything beautifully kept, round by the farm buildings to the church.  Very nice indeed.  Apparently not very much used, but like the garden and the hall, kept in beautiful order.  The only seating consists of two ancient pews with linen-fold panelled backs, six forms, and nothing else.  The effect is really magnificent.  No church should ever have pews.  There is a founder’s tomb in the S. wall, but no effigy.  There is also a good brass of T. Brewse and his wife, 1513, and a lovely [tomb] of J. Brewse, 1585, on the S. side of the chancel.

The chancel screen is most curious – a solid stone wall, 4’ high.  There are also the stairs to the Rood, and a nice new oak pulpit.

Took back the keys, cycled through Gt. Wenham to the main road, and reached Stratford at 20 to 6.  Went down to Dedham, had tea at the café, called at Sisson’s, and was in Colchester at 9.  Called at home, parents quite well, then up to the Holly Trees, talking to Poulter about the Archaeological Conference until after 11.  Hull is going, but I don't think I shall be able to.

Am now in the Oven, writing this, and all is very quiet, no sound but the stirrings of the watchers above and the scurryings of mice under the bed.  The moon was rising behind clouds when I came in.

17th July 1943

Managed to get in really early, after a quiet night.  Press conference was in the Holly Trees drawing room at 9.30.  It was not at all satisfactory, and after an hour of this [the newspaper reporters] were taken off to see the land-in-possession, except Nash and Draycott who both refused to go – they said what they wanted was a reply to the allegations made in specific cases in this District, and did not want a conducted tour of Committee land. 

Chairman came in later in the morning, and was very bitter against Wentworth Day.  Called him “a damned imposter, a low journalist, and an agitator”.

Out of office at 1.30, got my rations, and went up town for a few things.  Went into St. Peter’s Churchyard, and looked at the iron work on the door, which I have not seen for years.  Still in good order, though needs cleaning.  Walked along the little path to the back of the Parish Room, and thought of the times when I climbed up and down those steps with the water jug 25 years ago, and the day when Mother came to hurry home with me during an air raid.

16th July 1943

Disturbed, noisy night.  German ‘planes over almost continuously, time after time for nearly 4 hours, beginning just after midnight.  There were few searchlights, but most a long way off.  Heard no bombs, but could not sleep until 5am.  Spent most of the night reading.

Many heavy freight trains came through towards London, puffing slowly up the bank, whistling and clanking.  Several times I half expected ‘planes to attack them, but nothing happened.  Must be nerve wracking for the drivers and firemen, who can hear nothing but their own engines.

Woke at 8, and managed to get to the office at 9.30.  Capt. Folkard not there, but Walling looked furious. 

Busy most of the day getting ready for this press conference tomorrow.  Home to tea.  The old folks both very well, and never heard a sound last night.

This afternoon Col. Mayhew MP for Dunmow came in, and Poulter called me down to introduce me.  He is very deaf, and full of long rather tedious details about his family.  Told me inter alia that working in dusty libraries or museums often causes cancer, (referring to Poulter).  Warned me never to eat food before washing after touching all MSS.

After tea went down to Bourne Mill and chased some boys away, giving myself terrible heart pains.  Went to one boy’s home in Winchester Road, and told his mother I would take him to the police station if I caught him again.  She said “Damn good job, then I’ll be rid o’ the little bugger!”

Back to Holly Trees for an hour, checking photos, then out by way of Dedham.  A good many oat fields traved now, and a binder clacking in the distance.  Swarms of ‘planes going up from Langham aerodrome, and swarms of jeeps, lorries and taxis taking Americans into town for the evening.  Noticed they have put up their own “Slow” traffic notices, but have put them on the wrong sides of the road.

Called at Sissons’ and returned a book, then very slowly to Lawford.  Glorious cool evening.  Fed the calves, and then to bed.  The moon rose, huge and yellow behind the hill.  Looked at it through the glasses, such a strange remote landscape, no war, no bombs.  Read “Yr Herald” which “Len Carn” sent me.  Seems like reading about a land as remote as the moon itself.  What will tonight bring?  Only one person killed last night, apparently.

15th July 1943

Quiet night, nothing about at all.  Slept soundly until 7.30.  Lovely morning, wind a little fresher than yesterday, still S.W.  Saw a covey of young partridges on the road, scattering and squeaking through the hedges as I approach.  Finches everywhere in great profusion, fluttering right under one’s wheels.  Got a tow behind a timber-lorry, a great help.

Very busy morning.  Certain now that we are to have a new office, so the District Officer, Nott, Spencer and I all went out to see first “Blenheim” at Blackheath and then “Kingsmeade” on Lexden Straight Rd.  The first is really the best, (Spencer much favours it as almost opposite his own house, and Nott as being near Mersea) but the second I like, quite remote, well back from the road, very quiet.  We called at Kingswode Ho” in Sussex Rd, where much work is going on getting ready for the Women's Land Army hostel.  Beds and furniture being put in.  Saw Capt Lockhart’s huge mastiff, which is still kept in a large cage in the yard behind the stables.  Most extraordinary old woman acting as caretaker.  What a delightful office this would have made, magnificently situated on the edge of the valley with wonderful views.  Personally I feel very strongly that we ought to have War Agricultural Committee offices right in the country whatever the inconvenience.

Capt. Folkald wants an outline of the condition of the Wigborough-Peldon country before the war, so I wrote on this this afternoon.  This is for the Press conference on Saturday. 

 At lunch today saw a very old Chelsea pensioner, in his scarlet coat, walking slowly down Culver St., leaning on his stick.

Got to Lawford just after 9.  Fed calves.  Heavy clouds came up, then drifted away, and a light rain fell.  A vaste rainbow spanned the southern sky, trees became rich gold colour, and the sun sank in sheets of gold and crimson cloud.  No ‘planes about yet.

14th July 1943

From 4 to 6am ‘planes came limping in from the sea, and then about 7am over 100 bombers went out very high, right over the house, each with a white vapour trail streaming away from tail and wings, spreading into a vast wide wake, touched with gold by the rising sun.  Hardly had this noise died away than Langham ‘planes were warming up.

Called at Annings’ on the way in.  He says hay will be very short this winter, and only bailed, which is mostly rubbish, will be available.

In the “Gazette” today, a long article about Wentworth Day’s [protest] meeting against the War Agricultural Committee.  [The Executive Committee at] Writtle are now taking this business more seriously, and there is to be a press conference here on Saturday, which Sadler [the Executive Officer] will attend.

13th July 1943


‘Planes were going out after half past 11 last night, and about 2 a.m. this morning I heard an “all-clear”, and the voices of the men on the searchlight.

More ‘planes began warming up at Langham soon after 5 – a dull, horrid roar.  Got in early, lot of American traffic on the road, going both ways.  Saw one of Blythe’s pair horse wagons on the road, with nice Suffolks.

Busy all morning with minutes, had to ring the Executive Officer about the meeting.  He is always most charming on the ‘phone.

Left early this afternoon, and went with Molly Blomfield in her car to see Frank Girling about photos [for the National Buildings Record].  I was particularly anxious that she should get his cooperation as he is such a fine photographer and has such a knowledge of buildings in the district, but she was most reluctant to go.

On the way saw Wyncoll at Ardleigh (Fox St) was cutting oats, and the wheat is yellowing fast.  But the wind was rising, with racing clouds, and the corn moved back and forth in tempestuous waves.  Who would be a farmer?

Girling showed us a fine lot of his photos, but Molly paid little attention, and was all in a state to get away home. 

She left me at Lawford, on the top road, and I walked down over the fields, feeling very tired and miserable.  Lay on the bed for an hour so, and on waking had a most unpleasant sensation of loss of memory – I had not the slightest idea where I was.  Looked out of the window, saw the steep hill-side, the cows chewing peacefully in the cool of the evening below me, and the moon rising.  Came to the conclusion that I must be in Wales, an idea perhaps stimulated by getting “Yr Herald” from Humphrey Davies today.  It was some minutes before I realised where I really was.

Wind has now dropped, and it looks like fine weather.

10th July 1943

Fine and bright at 6am, but by 9 a light haze came over, although not very thick.  Saw in the morning papers that there had been a raid on an area S. of London yesterday afternoon, and that in one town a lot of people were killed in a cinema.  Some ‘planes got as far as Caterham, and 2 were brought down.  Looks as though the low-level bad-weather attacks are going to begin again, and that we are going to have another winter like the last.

9th July 1943

Late as usual today, but District Officer not there, so all well.  Called at Park Lane Farm, Langham, to see Williamson about an application for a building licence.  One of the aerodrome runways is less than 100 yards from his house, and all day long they suffer the fearful roar of ‘planes taking off, everything covered in fine dust, which creeps into the house through every crack.  Life must be absolutely intolerable.  Lovely morning, clear and sunny, but rain this afternoon.

Cycled out slowly tonight by Crockleford.  Two fields of oats cut and traved near Fox’s Fruit Farm – curious that these fields are always the first to be cut in this district.  And so another harvest begins.  Hope the weather keeps open.

Cuckoos all gone now.  Noticed they did not seem so numerous this year, nor did they “change their tune” before they left.  Swallows swiftly swooping this evening in front of the Gate House in High Street, where their nests can be seen in a row under the eves.

8th July 1943

Fine until this afternoon, but cool, then clouded over and showers began.  All day long the noise of the ‘planes from Langham, circling low round the town.

This morning they sent 5 horses up from Wigborough to collect the new trolleys and the wagon which Lawrence has been re-painting.  As nobody had bothered to tell me, the trolleys built by Polley at Ardleigh had not been brought in to town, so I had to send one pair of horses over there – those two will have done more than 30 miles on the road today.  Jack Bell, who used to be at the Corporation and afterwards at Moy’s, took one of them.  A very old man who went down to Boast’s yard for the wagon, lives at Wigborough, and told me had never been to Colchester before.  He did not seem very struck with the place now he has seen it.  I got him to bring the wagon up to Holly Trees, a glorious sight of shining red and green, and then insisted that the District Officer and the whole staff came out to look at it. 

Walked down to Buttles’ Corner with the old carter, and put him on the Mersea Road.  He said “Reckon I’m glad to have you with me, or I’d be lost around here.”

Lawrence told me that when he was painting this wagon he found on it the name of Stanford of Beaumont Hall, who left there quite 30 years ago.  These vehicles are ever-lasting.  The carter liked it, - he said it was “a master wagon”, same as what they had when he was a boy.

Cycled out by the Ipswich Road.  Lovely cool evening.  Wheat yellowing and oats right ready to cut. 

7th July 1943

Fine, but becoming cloudy at times, and showers this afternoon.  ‘Planes from Langham flying round the town all day, but a strange lack of enemy activity during the last 3 weeks.

6th July 1943

Fine day until the afternoon, when clouds rolled over and there were several sharp heavy showers.  Hope we are not in for a wet harvest.  Went home to tea.

This morning 3 or 4 heavy bombers came over, circling the town, and towing troop-gliders.

Cycled out this evening before an immense black storm, but it caught up with me at Ardleigh.  There was thunder and lightning, and the rain came sheeting down, so went into the church to shelter, but it was too dark and gloomy to see anything.  Went out and sat on the seat in the lych-gate, watching the storm, and reading one of Negley Farson’s books.  When the rain stopped a huge double rainbow appeared, against the black receding storm, spanning the eastern sky, and the sun came blazing out.  As I went past the Land Settlement, people were already out working again.

Fed the calves, had supper, and went to bed early, hoping to get some sleep.

4th July 1943

‘Planes went out at midnight, and came back at 4 this morning.  Leaned out of the window to hear them go, high among thin clouds, and below the roar of the engines could hear the laughter and chatter of girls talking to soldiers up on the main road, coming away from a dance at Foxash Hall.

Fine morning.  Spent a quiet time, writing until 4 this afternoon, then down to Sissons’, chatted there and then had tea in the café.  Suddenly decided to go over to Boxted, for no particular reason, and called on the Roses.  They have bought a very nice four-poster bed, and were putting it up when I got there.  It looked very well. 

At about 7.30 a lot of ‘planes got up from Langham, one after another, and flew off towards the S.W.  Then several dozen more came down from Suffolk on the same course.  Looked like a big operation, but some came back fairly soon.  Had supper, and heard the 9 o’clock news – big raid on Germany last night, and 32 ‘planes lost.  

Left just after 9, and took some eggs to old Mrs Pat Green and then took some more home to Mother – how she enjoys them.  Fed Bob in the meadow and then to Castle.  Big crowds of Americans, English ATS, sailors, etc rolling about the streets, nearly all drunk.  Due to Independence Day I suppose.  Fire-watchers at Groom & Daniel’s timber yard leaning over the wall, talking to friends in the street, and several young girls in “slacks” hurrying along, carrying rugs and baskets of food, going on fire-watch.

Got to Holly Trees at 10.30, and spent an hour in the Muniment Room on old photos.  Then went to the Castle and found the door locked and bolted, which is quite contrary to rules.  Kicked and hammered and shouted so loudly that two policemen came along from High St. and added a tattoo with their truncheons.  At last, after about 5 minutes, a very slow watchman came down and let me in.  Both the men were partly drunk.  Locked myself in the Oven in a rage.

3rd July 1943

Fine and warm.  Busy all morning.  Hear that we are not to have the other Conscientious Objector – they are going to send another man after all.  People in and out all morning, Committee members, Chairman, etc.  Hardly a moment to get anything done. 

This afternoon to Bourne Mill, chased a gang of boys out of the field.  Home to tea.  Then to the Regal, saw a very good show.  Cycled back in cool of evening, and had a delicious supper.  Finished reading Sean O’Casey’s “Pictures in the Hallway”, which whets my appetite for Iceland.

2nd July 1943

Cloudy in the morning, then rapidly clearing to be a very fine day.  Home to tea.  Mother had heard a story from Ella that there had been a big explosion on an aerodrome near Haverhill, when a bomb was mishandled while being loaded into a ‘plane.  She said 28 Americans were killed.

All the Langham ‘planes were up this evening, flying slowly round the town, very low, making an ear splitting noise.  Calm golden evening at 10 o’clock.  Felt rotten, went to bed in daylight.